By Kevin Rogers
It’s a good time to be nerdy.
The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, both based on comic books, ranked one and two respectively at the domestic box-office in 2012. Nielsen ratings show The Big Bang Theory, a television series focused on a group of nerds, is currently the most-watched network comedy. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the season three premiere The Walking Dead, a television series based on a graphic novel, set the basic cable viewership record for a drama series.
Nerd culture is no longer limited to midnight releases, conventions or comic book shops. If movies and television are any indication, nerd culture is now a widespread and important component of American popular culture.
Also essential to American culture is the political climate. Turn on a Sunday talk show, flip through a newspaper or scroll through stories on Politico and it’s easy to find information and analysis on the top political issues of the day. In the case of lawmakers, it’s fairly simple to track down their policy positions and governing philosophies via their official government websites.
But are any of these lawmakers nerds?
There’s been a bit of reporting done on nerdy inclinations among lawmakers. An internet search can reveal a story or two about politicians’ nerdy habits and interests.
One example is Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, president pro tempore of the Senate. According to The Associated Press, Leahy turned his childhood liking of Batman into cameos in The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). In The Dark Knight, Leahy’s character confronts Heath Ledger’s Joker and endures a terrifyingly close encounter with the villain and his signature switchblade.
President Barack Obama is another politician who reveals his nerdier side on occasion. Obama teamed up with Spider-Man in a special 2009 inaugural issue of The Amazing Spider-Man.In 2012, the president talked The Avengers during a May appearance on The View.
But beyond these high-profile cases, there’s not much out there on the nerdy inclinations of legislators and policymakers. Considering the boom in the popularity of nerd culture, it’s worth checking to see if any lawmakers are paying attention. If nerd culture is popular with some Americans and lawmakers represent the American people, there might be a few nerds in government.
Finding those nerds is the goal of The Nerds of Congress. The blog plans to profile state and national lawmakers to expose any of their nerdier hobbies and interests. The profiles will discuss the lawmakers’ achievements, governing philosophy and policy goals. More importantly, they will offer a little-seen side of elected officials.
Additionally, the blog will examine connections between nerd culture and the current political climate. If there are reasonable comparisons that can be made, they will be made. It will be a different sort of political analysis that should offer a uniquely nerdy perspective on the happenings in Washington.
The Nerds of Congress aims to offer an entertaining, informative take on politics and lawmakers. There are hundreds of lawmakers and plenty of opportunities to expose the nerds among them.
Stay tuned and look out as The Nerds of Congress merges the political with the nerdy.